Updated: Mar 12, 2019
Newcastle United have today confirmed the signing of Miguel Almiron from Atlanta United FC for a club record fee believed to be £21m.
The 24 year old Paraguayan International has signed a five and half year contract with the Magpies. The deal not only concludes a protracted negotiation to bring Rafa Benitez top target to the club, but also breaks Newcastle’s long standing record transfer, previously held by Michael Owen following his transfer from Real Madrid way back in 2005.
Almiron has all the credentials to be a real hit in the Premier League, no doubt the very reason Rafa rates him so highly.
A player with real pace and a wand of a left foot he's at his most comfortable running at defenders. The only question mark, surely, will be the pedigree of the leagues Miguel has played in thus far. The 24 year old starting his career with Cerro Porteno in Paraguay before moving to Lanus in the Argentinian Premier League. Whilst the player only managed 2 goals and 3 assists in his 31 appearances there, he was plucked to new MLS club Atlanta in 2017 for £6m where he guided the club to their first League title, also claiming the MLS player of the season award when the league finished just a month or so ago.
21 goals and 21 assists in 62 league games for Atlanta United made sure he found his way firmly into the spot light. Links to Arsenal were never firmed up, whilst only as recently as this week Almiron’s agent was in Naples trying to finalise a deal with the media reporting from the States that the player had a less than 5% chance of joining Newcastle United.
Roll forward to Tuesday night, and moments before the ultimately joyous home game against Manchester City news broke that Newcastle had indeed brokered a deal, and that the player was on route to the UK to undertake his medical.
And today, deadline day, the deal was confirmed by the club.
Miguel Almiron had flown to London over night on Tuesday (UK time), arriving in London Wednesday lunch time before travelling to Newcastle by helicopter to undertake his medical and finalise the deal.
Capped 13 times for Paraguay the attacking midfielder normally plays as a number 10 but is almost equally as comfortable on the left flank. And with 13 goals in the league last season the Newcastle fans will be looking for more of that kind of form for the remainder of this campaign.
Of course the backdrop to this deal has been the tortuous wait to finally break a transfer record that has stood for 14 years. In that time we’ve seen relegations and promotions, new managers come and go.
The one common denominator for almost all of that period has been a certain Mike Ashely.
Prior to his tenure, Newcastle United had broken their transfer record three times in reasonable quick succession, especially when you consider one of those was a World Record. That, of course, was the signing of Alan Shearer for £15m in 1996 which had followed hot on the heels of signing Faustino Asprilla. United fans had to wait another nine years before the arrival of Michael Owen in 2005 for £16.8m
This breakthrough then is a really interesting development in what had seemed to be a standoff between Mike Ashely (including his Board) and Rafa Benitez. The assertion had been, for some time, that Ashley was refusing to invest in the squad until Rafa demonstrated his medium or long term commitment to the club, whilst Rafa himself was not entertaining a new deal for himself until the club showed some commitment and ambition in the transfer market.
With the club earlier confirming a deal for Italian left back Barreca, and possibly looking to add a couple more signings before the close of the window, it remains to be seen whether this move will be enough to convince the Spaniard to stay. Rafa stating after Tuesday's win against Manchester City that he ‘remains professional and will continue to do his best as long as he is at the club’.
For a now at least, Newcastle fans can rejoice in removing Michael Owen’s name from the record books, and salivate at the prospect of the arrival of this exciting prospect.
More on this story on the clubs official website HERE